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The Marketing Crisis of NFP

A few weeks ago, at a bachelorette party of all places, I was asked about NFP (Natural Family Planning).

Certainly not expecting the question in that element, and being a “halfway” user of NFP (charting generally, but not using contraceptives in any way), my answer was short and to the point: Yes (because explaining what we do was going to be far too complicated and we're eventually going to be "real" NFP users), that it was a sacrifice but totally worth it, and that I did not regret NOT being on birth control at all. Thankfully, the questioner accepted it, seemed interested in looking into it, and then blessedly changed the conversation.

So basically, my marketing of NFP was marginally successful, given the circumstances.

This year for NFP Awareness week, I’ve seen a lot of discussions about its misconceptions and the way it’s advertised to couples. I think that’s really helpful, but there’s also a lot of work to be done still in how we advertise this fertility awareness method.

To me, there seems to be three very different brand identities that NFP suffers from.

1. NFP is only for those really crazy Catholics. Like the ones who don’t even use birth control. It’s not a reliable healthcare opportunity, it’s based on the outdated rhythm method, and you’ll end up having ten children and needing a 15-passenger van to get around.

2. NFP is the greatest gift ever given to us by God. It always involves my husband and I holding hands in a beautiful meadow at sunrise for some reason. We had three children spaced exactly when we wanted them, and abstinence isn’t problematic at all. It brings us closer and makes our unity so much better when we finally come together.

3. NFP is Catholic birth control. (This one makes me pull my hair out. That’s literally the exact OPPOSITE of what it is.)

So what is NFP to do about that? Brand image is very much defined by its audience, and right now, NFP’s audience seems pretty confused.

Here are a few things I think people who are passionate about NFP and fertility awareness can do to help make the marketing narrative a bit more accurate and realistic:

  • For the love of all that is holy, please please PLEASE stop using advertisements for NFP that involve a couple holding hands in a sun-soaked field. (Now do you see